I’ve spent so much time talking about parades that some of the simpler things I love about New Orleans have fallen through the cracks.
First, let me mention City Park. I encourage you to visit their site and watch the short video. It highlights many of the attractions in this 1300 acre wonderland.
I visited the park in December with a new friend and loved Storyland, a collection of fairytale inspired rides and statues. I also loved what I call the bing bong tree, a live oak festooned with GIANT wind chimes. The photos only give you a perspective if you understand how truly huge an old live oak can be. The air literally vibrates as the giant tubes strike one another in the breeze. Oddly, most of the photos that I took (which appear at the bottom of this page) are of the few areas the City Park video overlooks.
According to Wikipedia, City Park is the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States. It’s also home to the biggest group of mature live oaks in the world with trees over 600 years old. The park was established in 1854 so it’s also one of the oldest parks in the U.S. Over 11 million people a year visit the botanical garden, carousel, golf course, New Orleans Museum of Art, pond with paddle boats, concerts and other fabulous features of the park.
On Oscar night, I went to an event at the Prytania Theatre. They’d shown Best Picture nominees in the weeks leading to the awards and culminated with a big party, evening wear optional. For $25, we were afforded jambalaya, cupcakes and other yummies, all we could drink, and the awards on the big screen of this historic landmark, the last single screen theatre in Louisiana and the oldest In New Orleans (1915).
I dressed in a long golden gown, donned my Dr. Boogie hair ( a fall from Dr. Boogie of Shear Genius fame), my highest heels and sparkliest bangles and headed down to make new friends and finally bring a piece of my culture to here. There was a trivia contest and I won a gift certificate on the very first question. Turns out I knew about 70% of the trivia. Still don’t know how to pronounce streets and menu items here, but I know who was the youngest person to win the Academy Award for Best Actor (as well as the person whose record he surpassed).
In case you need some Dr. Boogie hair, here’s his link.
My friend, Heidi, of Vikings-game victory fame, encouraged me to show up and I met wonderful people there, entered a circle of longtime friends (and haven’t left). I had a couple of friends in L.A. who were nominated. One had a win for his movie, but the highlight of the evening seemed to be when sometime-local resident Sandra Bullock won for Best Actress. The crowd couldn’t have been happier to see the “nice girl” win and many people erupted into stories of having met her and how sweet and kind she is. (She really is).
And yesterday, I had another treat, a ride across the Mississippi on a ferryboat. We went to a honky tonk by the river and walked along the levy at sunset then dined at Pho Tau Bay, a Vietnamese restaurant. It was so cooling to cross the river – another place to add to the list of movie theatres and grocery stores and other spots for escaping future Summer heat.
The bottom line is that, even when there’s no parades or festivals (hasn’t happened yet and festival season STARTS next week), there’s still so many wonderful things to experience here.